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How a powerful corporate consulting firm helped create the opioid epidemic

Feb 10, 2021 6:25 PM EST

By —Stephanie Sy
Source: PBS

The opioids crisis that has taken hundreds of thousands of American lives has received less attention in the pandemic, but drug overdoses and deaths have grown during the last year. Now, one of the world’s most powerful corporate consulting firms has agreed to a major settlement for its role in the sale of painkillers. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy joins Stephanie Sy to discuss.

WATCH:

  • Judy Woodruff:The opioids crisis that has taken hundreds of thousands of American lives has gotten less attention during the pandemic, but it’s no less dangerous.In fact, the CDC says drug overdoses and deaths have grown substantially since the pandemic began.Now one of the world’s most powerful corporate consulting firms has agreed to a major settlement for its role and trying to — quote — “turbocharge” sales of painkillers.Stephanie Sy has our update.
  • Stephanie Sy:Good evening, Judy.The settlement holds McKinsey & Company financially accountable for its extensive work with Purdue Pharma and other drugmakers to aggressively market highly addictive painkillers. The agreement allocates $573 million to 47 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories to fund opioid treatment, recovery and prevention programs.Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has been leading the legal battles against McKinsey and Purdue Pharma, and joins me now.Madam Attorney General, it’s a pleasure having you on the “NewsHour.”I want to dive right in.The velocity, the breadth of the opioid epidemic and how many American lives it has devastated is astounding. How much of that would you ascribe to McKinsey consultants’ strategies to sell more OxyContin?
  • Maura Healey:Well, Stephanie, what my office’s investigation uncovered is that, in fact, McKinsey was right at the heart of things.McKinsey, to be clear, what our investigation uncovered was consulting with the Sacklers and Purdue. They were instructing them on how to boost OxyContin sales, how to get doctors to prescribe more and more to patients.McKinsey consultants actually rode along with, went with Purdue sales reps to doctor’s offices here in Massachusetts to critique them on how effective they were at selling OxyContin. McKinsey advised Purdue how to avoid FDA and pharmacy restrictions.They later advised Purdue on how to enter the market for opioid rescue and treatment medications, because McKinsey knew that people were overdosing and dying and getting sick from OxyContin. So, McKinsey’s fingers are all over this. It’s why we came together as states.This is the first multistate resolution that will return, importantly, millions and millions of dollars to our states right away that we’re going to use directly for treatment.And, also importantly, Stephanie, we did something for the first time, set up an online document repository where, in months’ time, everyone in the country, researchers, the press, the public, will be able to see McKinsey’s e-mails, memos, and the individuals who were involved in this effort.
  • Stephanie Sy:One of the more egregious tactics that the complaint alleges was proposed by McKinsey consultants was giving the idea to give rebates to pharmacies when their customers overdosed on OxyContin.Now, there’s no evidence that that was actually enacted, but, Madam Attorney General, what does that tell you about these entities’ desire for profit at all costs?
  • Maura Healey:It’s exactly that, profit at all costs.McKinsey consultants were about the business of advising their clients on how to make as much money as possible from this deadly epidemic. It shows a callousness that really is beyond the pale. And it’s why McKinsey needs to be held accountable.The fact that they knew — I mean, they knew how dangerous these opioids were, that they went so far as to try to propose to Purdue how it could pay insurance companies rebates for every patient who O.D.ed on OxyContin is gross. It’s disturbing. And, today, there is a reckoning and an accountability that our families, Stephanie, in Massachusetts and all across this country deserve.Those who engaged in acts and perpetrated such wrong against so many families need to be held accountable. And McKinsey was right there part of it.
  • Stephanie Sy:And we should say that McKinsey issued a rare apology, saying: “We recognize that we did not adequately acknowledge the epidemic unfolding in our communities. We want to be part of the solution.”However, they never explicitly acknowledged any wrongdoing or illegality.So, I want to ask you, are you planning any further complaints, criminal complaints, against McKinsey individuals?
  • Maura Healey:Well, Stephanie, our agreement does not release any criminal claims. And I cannot speak to the status of any criminal investigations.What I will say, though, is that this agreement — remember, we filed a complaint in every state in this country. We filed a consent judgment in the states. And you will see in time, with the documents, it will be very clear to the public exactly what McKinsey did.So, the apology is a little too late for the families who lost loved ones to this disease, to this epidemic, and to the families who are struggling every day. Yes, we have COVID, and that is, understandably, taking the front pages, but this crisis, this opioid crisis, has not gone away. It’s gotten worse, in fact.And so McKinsey needs to pay up. They’re paying up big time with this nearly $600 million consent judgment, where that money is going to go right into our states, so that we can use that money to help treat people, to help with the recovery effort.But I hope it sends a message loud and clear to those entities out there who are willing, it seems, all too willing to put profits ahead of people. There’s a price for that. And I’m proud of the work of state attorneys…
  • Stephanie Sy:Yes, and I know, Attorney General, that you are continuing to pursue a case against Purdue Pharma as well.We will have to leave it there.But, Maura Healey, the attorney general from the great state of Massachusetts, thank you so much for joining us.
  • Maura Healey:Good to be with you, Stephanie. Thank you.

What “medicines” / drugs are you taking? Why? Why is it the assumption that nearly every illness is cued by a drug? What will be the next drug epidemic and which doctors office will it come from? Why don’t these medical professionals lead by example?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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Stephanie Sy
Stephanie Sy

Stephanie Sy is a PBS News Hour correspondent and serves as anchor of PBS News Hour West. Throughout her career, she served in anchor and correspondent capacities for ABC News, Al Jazeera America, CBSN, CNN International, and PBS News Hour Weekend. Prior to joining News Hour, she was with Yahoo News where she anchored coverage of the 2018 Midterm Elections and reported from Donald Trump’s victory party on Election Day 2016.

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True to the Journey

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Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine deal with the U.S., announced last week with a $1.525 billion price tag, would be worth far more if all options are exercised—and if the mRNA biotech meets an aggressive timeline for the shot’s arrival.

The company stands to gain up to a whopping $8.125 billion, according to a Moderna securities filing that details the price for follow-up doses and the windfall for an early FDA approval.

The base agreement calls for 100 million doses of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, for $1.225 billion. But the drugmaker is eligible for a $300 million bonus if it’s able to score an FDA emergency use authorization or full approval by Jan. 31, the filing shows. 

Source: Fierce Pharma

As we get information regarding COVID 19 and on the many companies working on the vaccine, I am reminded of something my supervisor once said “the medical industry is a business like any other business”. A family friend recently shared that she tested positive for COVID 19. We prayed for her and offered her all the information we had about COVID 19. She was grateful, yet she stated that she would be seeking natural means for recovering from COVID 19. In the midst of a global pandemic it is easy to seek out the quickest solutions. She reminds us that through it all it is important to stay true to the ‘Organic Journey’. It is true in gardening and true with health. It may seem easier and quicker to grab the nearest chemical or drug for a solution. But, in our Organic Journey we have learned to first ask “what is the Organic Remedy to this problem. Who do you know that has been impacted by COVID 19? How has your family been impacted? How has your ability to work been impacted? Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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COVID 19, The Cure

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  • The US government’s Operation Warp Speed anticipates it will take until March to deliver 300 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
  • The ambitious vaccine initiative has often suggested the goal is to deliver the vaccine doses by January.
  • Business Insider confirmed that OWS expects to have initial doses available by January, but it will take several more months to produce and deliver 300 million doses.

The Trump administration has laid out an extraordinarily ambitious timeline for a coronavirus vaccine.

Operation Warp Speed, the government’s initiative to speed up vaccine work, says it’s aiming to deliver 300 million doses of a safe and effective shot by January 1. Creating a vaccine in less than a year would be an unprecedented feat — under normal circumstances, it can take a decade to develop a new vaccine and bring it to market.

But even if Warp Speed accomplishes this goal, most of us won’t be getting coronavirus vaccines in January. When administration officials talk about Warp Speed, they usually don’t mention that it will take months to distribute the shots across the nation.

The US Department of Health and Human Services, for example, says Warp Speed “aims to deliver 300 million doses of a safe, effective vaccine for COVID-19 by January 2021.”

But Operation Warp Speed won’t really deliver those 300 million doses to people until roughly March, administration officials acknowledged.

An unclear timeline for Operation Warp Speed

The confusion is evident in a timeline published on Thursday on the Defense Department’s Operation Warp Speed website. (OWS is a collaboration between the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services.)

The document, which Business Insider annotated below, says Warp Speed’s mission is to “deliver 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccine by 1 January 2021.” But it also shows how it will take 14 months to test, manufacture, and distribute a vaccine — a timeline that would stretch into March.

Operation Warp Speed coronavirus vaccine timeline
A one-page graphic outlines Operation Warp Speed’s plan to quickly develop, manufacture, and distribute a coronavirus vaccine. 

To be clear, distributing hundreds of millions of doses of a coronavirus vaccine by next March would be an unprecedented feat. Achieving that goal depends on a lot going right, including seeing success in clinical studies, ramping up manufacturing, and logistically executing the distribution of the shots across the nation.

It’s important to be realistic about when we’ll have a vaccine

As it stands, none of the coronavirus vaccine candidates that drugmakers are working on has shown that it can actually prevent infection or disease. Large-scale trials of vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and AstraZeneca have begun in recent weeks, with results likely to come later this fall or winter.

Stephane Bancel, the CEO of Moderna, recently estimated that in a best-case scenario — in which several of these leading vaccine candidates work — young and healthy people would likely receive their shots in spring 2021. If any of the leading shots fail in clinical trials, the timeline could be pushed into the second half of next year, Bancel said.

It’s important to be realistic about the timeline for a coronavirus vaccine, particularly as the US’s public-health response has become increasingly dependent on a vaccine to curb the pandemic. Shortcomings in testing, mask-wearing, and social distancing have laid bare the need for a vaccine, as more than 1,000 people in the US have died each day from the coronavirus in recent weeks.

Drug-industry CEOs have said we need to be cautious about the vaccine timeline

Some top drug-industry CEOs have also emphasized the need for caution on the most aggressive timelines.

Roche CEO Severin Schwan said in April that a vaccine would “most likely” not be ready before the end of 2021. Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan said on Thursday at a Bloomberg News event that he had “reasonable confidence” that a vaccine could be broadly used by the end of next year.

Roche isn’t working on a coronavirus vaccine, while Novartis is involved in an early-stage vaccine project. Kenneth Frazier, the CEO of Merck, a drugmaker with a long track record of creating vaccines, has also urged people to be realistic about the timeline.

“I think when people tell the public that there’s going to be a vaccine by the end of 2020, for example, I think they do a grave disservice,” Frazier said in a recent interview with the Harvard professor Tsedal Neeley. “We don’t have a great history of introducing vaccines quickly in the middle of a pandemic. We want to keep that in mind.”

Merck is working on a coronavirus vaccine of its own but hasn’t provided a detailed timeline.

We asked the Trump administration to clarify Warp Speed’s goals

Business Insider asked Trump administration officials in recent days to clarify Warp Speed’s goals, because the recent timeline isn’t the only instance in which the administration has been unclear. For example:

  • Paul Mango, a senior administration official working on Operation Warp Speed and a deputy chief of staff at HHS, said on a press call on Wednesday, “I can tell you and reiterate we are on track to deliver hundreds of millions of doses by January 2021.”
  • President Donald Trump said earlier this month that a vaccine could be ready “right around” the November 3 election. “I’m rushing it. I am. I’m pushing everybody,” Trump told the radio host Geraldo Rivera, adding, “And we’re mass-producing the most promising candidates in advance so that we’re ready upon approval.”
  • HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in an interview with a local television station in August: “We now stand at a position where it is very credible that by the end of the year we will have in the high tens of millions of doses of FDA, gold-standard vaccine and, by the beginning of next year, hundreds of millions of doses of vaccines.”

Administration officials confirmed to Business Insider that it would take months after January to accomplish Warp Speed’s goals of injecting 300 million vaccine doses.

Here’s how Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, put it in response to a question about the timeline:

“That last three months is distribution of 300 million doses,” Collins said. “That is the process of getting a dose to every American, which we didn’t expect we could do by the first of January. That’s going to take the additional three months to do so.”

Source: Business Insider

As noted above many have stated that it will be at least March 2021 before a vaccine is available and January 2021 simply is not realistic. What do you think of the current administrations handling of the pandemic? Do you think they can deliver a vaccine by January 2021? What do you think of this administration current handling of the economic crisis caused by the pandemic? Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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Wireless Medical Devices


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Wireless Medical Devices
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

One thing we know about the FDA is that its board of medical professionals (often with unreported conflicting relations) are often too quick to push drugs and medical devices onto the market. Often they have financial incentives that encourage them to get these drugs and devices on the market fast, which is why we often see recalls. When a drug and device is not properly tested, it brings clinical trails to the unknowing public who become tests subjects. The FDA is this not proactive but reactive in dealing with things that people often spend years complaining about. Indeed these complaints are often made by thousands upon thousands of people.

The question is, should we just because we can? Are we ready for this level of technology? Do we know all the risks or are we the test subjects? Many people eat GMOs (genetically modified organisms) without knowing it. The results are still out on the impact of GMOs on the public and environment. In fact many people do not even know what GMOs are. Share your comments with the community by positing them below. Share the wealth of healthy with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.